Category Archives: music

Thoughts on music: Pasasalamat, the 25th anniversary album of Christian Bible Church of Las Piñas

I am so proud to post this. Pasasalamat (Grateful) is an album that i produced for the 25th anniversary of my church, Christian Bible Church of Las Piñas. Read on!

Last year, we did something ground-breaking, something so big and ambitious it required my full 100‰ attention for 6 months. We recorded our 25th anniversarry album, Pasasalamat. But everything started 7 years ago.

7 years ago, a dream began to linger my mind. During the time when almost all songs we sing in church are from albums from the US and Australia, I started thinking about the possibility of our church having an album. But of course during that time, I had no proper training, no proper equipment and no possibility for me to do anything like an album. Exposing myself with different kinds of Christian music both local and foreign, on the summer of 2006, I came up with the first song to be included in the album–Pasasalamat. I just barely graduated high school that time and was still establishing my direction for the next 5 or so years. But it was clear to me that I am on my way to a career in music. With the overflow of my leasons in music school came the overflow of God’s blessings for me to write more songs to be sung in church. Soon after, mama gor involved and started writing wonderful lyrics to songs like Nais Pa Kitang Makilala and Kay Buti Mo. That started the influx of words and music that every church anniversarry we see to it that a new song is sung.
Still, my dream a few years back remained, and even became stronger. As early as 2010 I was already telling mama and papa that we should record an album for our 25th anniversarry. What more fitting way to diaplay the goodness of God to the church by proclaiming it not only in CBC but to other churches as well through a CD. And true enough, God allowed it to happen.
2011, God allowed me to win a prestigious composition prize in Indonesia that opened doors for me but more than that, allowed me to acquire equipment for my home studio. Now, I have the right equipment. Years of training in music school allowed me to have the right training. Graduating from college last April 2012 allowed me to have time. And so it began.
I officially started working on the album without any assurance of having it sold, even without any assurance of how it would sound like. I used to produce individual songs before this but I never produced an album. I was really ambitious. The only thing driving me to do this was the sound of the would-be final product and the enjoyment on the faces of the music ministers everytime we finish a recording session in our “studio” every weekend, the pastor’s office.
It became our workplace every weekend even though we had to turn off the air conditioner every time in the middle of the summer heat, everyone had fun. A lot of talent was brought out in the humble 4 corners of the pastor’s office that could not have been possible in a recording studio with all the pressure of being overtime. And for 5 months of album production, it has been like that.
The last month was the post-production. It’s where modern technology steps in to make everything come together and make all the songs sound good. In other words, all pressure was on me now. For 5 days a week, from 10am to 10pm I drenched myself in listening to all the songs one by one until we got the most perfect sample which came after about 9 CD drafts.
After the CD production, I submitted the final master CD to our executive producer and took time to look back. It all just started with a dream. God allowed that dream to materialize and now the CD is blessing not only people from CBC but people around the Philippines as well through 702 DZAS.
Truly this CD is a testament of how God has worked through the church using the incredible talent that God has given the music ministry. Happy anniversarry to Christian Bible Church and to those who already have the CD, please share it with others that they may also be blessed!

Lubusan ang aming pasasalamat!

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Daluhong: a composition recital

Alexander John Villanueva’s Graduation Recital
Feb. 3, 2012, Abelardo Hall Auditorium, UP College of Music

Daluhong
text by Ara Janelle Foronda

I. Daluhong ng Alaala
Alaala
Alaalang inaalala
Inaalalang alaala

Bakit inaalala ang mga mangyayari palang?
Hindi ba’t ang pagaalala ay para lamang sa mga alaala?

Pinagtatakpan ang mga kadungisan
Ng alikabok na nakakapuwing
Di maglalaon, pinangliligo na
Ang dungis ng ibang tao
Isa ka nang higanteng kahihiyang
Naglalakad sa gitna ng daan
Tila kapita-pitagan ang sangsang
Na ikaw lang ang hindi nakakapuna

Nagpapasalamat ang mga kinuhanan
Ng pagkukunwaring kahihiyan

Kakayahan!

Nagbubunyi ang sinamsam
Tila nabuhusan ng tubig na maligamgam
Mga alaalang dapat sinusunog sa mga pahina
Ay nakakarating pa sa tainga ng iba
Mga dayaming inakalang may silbi
Itinanim sa harapan ng iyong hardin
Sa pagmamasid
Pumapalakpak ang tainga sa kumpas
Ng pulso ng karangyaan

Nagpupuri sa mga bagay na ikinakahiya
Ipinagbubunyi ang mga itinatatwa

Dahil, ano ba talaga ang madaling paniwalaan
Ang di gumagalaw o ang di nakikita?

Mas maigi nang pagbuntungan
Ng angas
Ng galit
Ng pag-yurak
Ang mga bagay na sumisimbolo
Sa mga hindi natatanaw

Nais ko lamang ipaalala
Na isa na lamang alaala
Ang nakalipas na segundo
Ng iyong pilit na pag-alala

Isa na lamang alaala
Ang kaganina’y inaalala

II. Hunyango
Sa kasukdulan na pananaimtim
Kinumpol na mga letra
Itinago sa loob ng mga palad

Inilapat sa mga matang
Pinamumugaran ng kabalintunaan

Pinapalabas na kasawian
Kapus-kapalaran
Ang mga duming nakasiksik
Sa mga kuko
Ng pusang iyong inihahalintulad
Sa isang mapangutyang
Ganid sa isda

Isinaboy sa nanunuyong labi
Ang mga letrang pinakatatago

Biglang bumuhos ang
Halakhak
Dahil sa rehas
Na pumapagitna
Sa inyong dalawa
Mga kinikimkim na pag-akala
Para sa mga kaluluwang
Walang ginawa
Kundi maging tao
Iniukit ang palad

Nilukot ang bawat linya
Sa mga kinamumuhiang
Hindi naman tinataglay

Sa kasukdulan mo nakita
Ang kaguluhan at
Paninimdim
Isa ka lamang sa marami
Na nagkukunwaring
Kaluluwa

III. Paghihikahos
Iwaglit ang bawat pagdaluhong
Hanapin ang mga kahulugan
Sa mga bituing nananahimik
Sa kanilang kinalalagyan
Kung maaari lang turuan
Ang salamin na magsinungaling
Upang ang buwan ay gawing
Kasing-laki ng mga patak ng ulan
Inaasam na pagkasyahin
Mga awiting naisasambit
Sa isang inaalikabok na parisukat
At sa kabila ng planadong
Kaguluhan
Nais nalang manatiling
Alaala ang mga katanungang
Inaalala
Upang mayroon pang alalahanin
Ang naghihikahos kong katauhan

Life thoughts: FEBIAS talk

Last Sunday, me and my parents talked in a Parenting Seminar in Febias which is a Bible College in Valenzuela City. Of course I didn’t talk about parenting, but I talked about how they brought me up, focusing on how our communication in the house made me what I am today.

 

We are so blessed to have parents like papa and mama. Personally, I thank God for them for how they brought us up–gwapo, confident, God-fearing.

I am the youngest of us three, bunso, malambing, makulit, magulo. But my parents had their ways of reaching out and communicating with the three of us. Si kuya na tahimik at malalim magisip ay tinatapatan nila papa and mama ng seryosong usapan na wala masyadong jokes, si ate na artsy, outgoing, at minsan sensitive ay iba din ang approach nila. Ako na ubod ng bait, at ubod ng gwapo ay, malamang, ibang iba.

When I was growing up, they taught me to be an achiever. I was taught to do everything with excellence. I was taught to be always number 1. So nung grade 1 ako, well hanggang grade 6, si mama lagi magrereview sakin pag may periodical exam. Hindi ko lang namemorize ang mga date kung kailan nag-landing si Magellan sa Pilipinas, hindi ko lang nalaman na mali ang tinuturo ng math teacher ko tungkol sa roman numerals, hindi lang ako top 1 from grade 1-6 dahil sa support nila kundi mabilis kong nalaman kung ano talaga ang gusto ko sa buhay.

Kaya nung highschool ako, at sobrang dami kong competition na nasalihan, sinuportahan nila ako sa lahat ng competition ko. When I was in 1st year, my first competition was the National Students Convention which was held in Marikina. Kahit na kakagaling lang sa hospital ni mama, they went to the competitions to watch me. 3rd year highschool naman in Baguio, they went naman to Baguio City to watch me. And my last national competition which was in Cebu, they also went there to watch and support me. Hindi lang musical competition ang sinalihan ko, may writing, may declamation, may photography din–kung kailan film pa ang ginagamit, at 400php ang isang roll ng film, well, they still supported me. I won first place in that. So when I went into college in UP, I know what I wanted. They supported all my interests. Unfortunately, music was what I love to do the most, kaya ngayon, isa po ako sa mga nagugutom na musikero sa Pilipinas. Hehe.

Sa college ibang level na. I excelled a lot as a composition major in the UP college of music.  University Scholar akong consistent, laging nag-aabroad for a conference or competition. At alam kong sabik din sila for any information galing sakin dahil nauuna pa mama ko magpost sa Facebook ng status tungkol sa mga magandang nangyayari sa kin. Hehe.

My most recent one was the Young Composers Competition of Southeast Asia in which I won the grand prize. Nung nag-skype kami after the awarding, si mama umiyak, ako hindi. Sinabi ko pa nga, ‘ma, please, ako magpopost!’ Hehe. And they were so proud of me. That makes me happy.

So going back to communication, I would just want to point out a few things based on my story.

1. Communication is not just what you say with your words, but what you say with your eyes, your facial expressions, your touch, your hug, your overall appearance, your eagerness, your kasabikan for a story, your time. There is more than just words.

2. Proper communication made me open up more to my parents, hearing their comments and suggestions, doing it, and achieving in life.

3. They respect who I am, not just me respecting what they want or how they want me to be. In that way, I respect them more.

4. My communication with them opened up my communication with God. They are my example of how and who God is.

 

My sister just got married last night (Saturday). I’m expected to be next. Pero paano ko itataguyod ang aking pamilya? Personnally, gusto ko ding palakihin ang mga anak ko in an environment the same way kung saan ako lumaki–it is an environment full of openness, full of love, full of sincerity, isang pamilyang may damdamin at di lang basta sumusunod sa rules ng isang librong nabasa mo sa National Bookstore, although baka makatulong, but how the Bible says it to be, and also how my magiging anak’s personality would be.

I would like to say again that communication makes a person open–open to criticism, open to change, open to sharing emotions and more. So for the parents here, please, please open the lines of communication to the children. Ask them how they are. Ask them about school. Kung in a relationship, ask them kung may pang-date. Tpos sabihin mo nalang na magtrabaho ka para sa pan-date mo. For the youth here, wag kayong mahiya. Magkwento, magsalita, umiyak, magtanong sa inyong mga magulang. Kung kaka-break mo lang sa girlfriend mo, sabihin mo. Kung after one week, may girlfriend na ulit, sabihin mo uli. Kung after one week, break nanaman, parents, batukan nyo na! Sa mga youth pa din, kung nagpapaturo nanay o tatay mo sa facebook o twitter, turuan mo. Pero wag masyado para di na madaming tanong. Tapos lagi niyong papaalala ung mga nakakalimutan nila. Kasi di na sila bumabata. Hindi sila pwedeng kabitan ng USB flash disk para madagdagan memory nila. Watch TV together. Watch movies together. Eat out together. Make unplanned vacations together. Ask them kung pano manligaw. Ask them pano magluto. Talk to them when your happy. Talk to them when your sad. Talk them about your future. Talk to them about God. But never talk to them about their insurance.  Hehe. Just keep the communication lines open!

Let me start and end my talk by saying that kaming magkakapatid are blessed to have papa and mama as our parents. So as I say goodbye and sing this song, always remember, the keyword is LOVE.

I sang a song of mine called Minsan http://soundcloud.com/ajvill/minsan and a beautiful song called Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nQy-aP_Koo

 

 

 

 

Life thoughts: Sorry!!

First of all, I’m really sorry for not posting anything for a month. I’ve been really really busy coping up with a lot of blessings God has given me just for this month. Which are:

1. If you remember the competition I talked about in one of my previous blogs, well, I won the Grand Prize! It was the Young Composers Competition of Southeast Asia which was held in Bandung, Indonesia. I had a blast there with the people, the places, the music and the food! We also went to Yogyakarta, East Java and to Jakarta as well to have some concerts.

2. My sister-in-law’s pregnant by just a few weeks! Hope it’s a girl! 2nd bundle of joy for the family.

3. My only sister is getting married this Saturday! I’m awfully gonna miss her (which I don’t tell her). I’m a bit sad yet happy all at the same time. I’m also excited because we’re gonna have wonderful music care of me and some musician friends. We practiced this afternoon and I was blown away by my own arrangements! Really excited!

4. And last. After 3 years of praying for each other, Ara said yes 🙂 and I love her so much.

I’m gonna try to get into blogging once again!

Life thoughts: ‘stage-fright’

I was raised by my parents achieving a lot. I was raised to achieve excellence and everything that I can and sometimes even surpassing what I can do. When I was in pre-school, and grade school, I was always one of the best students, and always the student with the most non-academic awards. This continued on ’til I was in high school, joining national and international competitions that pretty much shaped my future and what and where I am today. I am not bragging about anything, besides, this is all His, and all will be gone when we get to meet Him, but I just want to share to you what I’m feeling right now.

So here I am again, doing what I’ve been doing for a lot of years already. But maybe this time, it’s the most serious, the most dreadful, the most intimidating, the most excruciating competition yet.

I have to admit. I don’t think I’m even ready for this. I don’t even think I have enough ability to pull this thing off. Every time I even thin about it, my heart starts pounding as if I’m facing the ‘enemy’. Not THE enemy, but the judges (hihi). I’ve been telling my mom about this, and all she tells me is, “just leave it all to the Lord. He already knows who the winner is.”

But of course! He knows. I don’t. Now what? I have no choice but to do it how God would do it if He were in my place–He would do His very best. And that’s what I’m gonna do. At least I hope so.

So I’m leaving for Indonesia on Thursday for the Young Composers Competition of Southeast Asia. Truly, it’s an honor to be competing with 9 other composers. But of course, as my parents would say, I should strive for the best. Such pressure. But I actually put it all off my shoulders and onto God’s now. I know He can pull things off.

If you just read this, do me a favor, please pray for me! Thank you!

Alexander John ‘AJ’ Villanueva
posted from my Blackberry

Life thoughts: I hate teaching

I’m a teacher–a piano teacher. I actually hate it. I’ve been teaching for 4 months now, and I still get nervous before my lesson starts. I’m not always sure of I’m teaching the right stuff to the student–yes! Just one student. We’re in the middle of school in Manila so only a few kids are allowed by their parents to study piano while studying for school. And maybe another factor is the school itself–it doesn’t look so nice and safe from the outside. It’s in one of those areas in Quezon City where people are cramped up, always shouting, in-the-danger-of-having-a-dengue-outbreak sort of places. But I have to tell you, everytime I finish my lesson with my 9-year old kid, I am the happiest teacher. That’s the main reason why I’m still not resigning considering the place, the pretty laid back salary, sometimes delayed pay-offs. Now I understand. It’s those things in life that I would not find even if I had all the money in the world. (well I could have ‘all the money in the world’ in other studios, but that will come)

As I was about to go home after today’s lesson, trying to reconcile what I was feeling at that moment and what I was feeling before I went there, I remembered the perfect teacher and discipler–Jesus.

He was not bothered by the weather. He was not bothered by the kind of people. He was not bothered by the circumstances. He taught and discipled. He loved to be the mentor. And I would want to be like that.

I am so honored to be called a mentor by some people I know just by me saying what I’ve experienced/learned through music, school, church, making the right choices. Maybe that’s why I’m really enthusiastic with the youth of our church who look at me as a kuya (big brother).

So now, even though I might never remove the feeling of being nervous before giving piano lessons, I will really look forward to it. Besides, my student’s so smart, we’re going to finish her module early. Perfect timing to practice for her recital this November.

And no, I don’t hate teaching. I am really passionate about any opportunity to teach!